Unicorn Plants Part Two

In The Garden

22-11-2022 • 12 mins

Keith: So today I've got Shannon here with me from Garden Supply Company., we've talked about unicorn plants plants that are just, you just don't think you're gonna see 'em out there. Things that bloom throughout the year that are evergreen, that will handle wet or dry, that really fit a landscape plant kind of qualification.

What are some of your favorites, Shannon?

Shannon: So we talked already in the previous one, about sun unicorn plants. Yeah. But now I wanted to talk about shade. Of course camillia is one of the first things that comes to mind, but so many people think about cams as being these huge. Giant shrubs and they don't have to be right.

We've got quite a few that are three to four feet tall and wide. The first one that comes to mind is the October Ruby Magic. . That's a great plant. Yeah. Flowers red in the late October to Christmas almost, and stays within that realm. Controllable.

Keith: Yeah. So for people that don't know, su sanks are gonna bloom in the fall.

And then japonica is bloom in the spring. Su sank was are the smaller leaf cames and japonicas are the larger leaf and flowers that you know. . The su sanks are always the smaller leaf and smaller flowers, but they have more flowers. Japonicas will have great big rose like flowers or piney like flowers.

And and then they flower, winter into spring.

Shannon: And truly the waxy leaf of that evergreen is so beautiful all year round. It is, it doesn't matter if it's flowering or not, it's a stunning shrub. It's,

Keith: it looks perfect 12 months out of the year.

Shannon: Exactly. And I know you know this, but I'm from Wisconsin and the only evergreens we have are conifers, right? And it's a very limited number of conifers. Yep. That will stand that zone. And so to be down here with things that will stay evergreen. And flour. To me it truly is a unicorn .

Keith: It's the same as a crate myrtle in the middle of the summerside.

Exactly. People come down there oh my God, what is that plant? I have to have three of 'em. Yes. The Chails work really well. I The japonica, some of the larger japonicas really work well as a accent plant or something off the corner of the house. And in that case it's a smaller plant in a lot of cases than like in Nellie Stevens, Holly.

To . Put off a two story house or a, one and a half story house where you got, you've got the space for it to fill out.

Shannon: Absolutely. And they can be worked as a privacy shrub as well. They can in the shade. Yep. Or afternoon. Yeah.

Keith: Shade a little bit. The only thing with the chails that, that that people need to know is they're a little bit slow to establish and, but you put 'em in and you take, give 'em some.

And they're, they definitely have the value in the end.

Shannon: Absolutely. One of my personal favorites, and I can't think of the name of it, is the it's one that flowers, pink, red, and white, but is all completely,

Keith: yeah, I can't remember. Okay. It maybe Deb, Debbie to It

Shannon: might be, we'll have to circle back to that, but we will the Andromeda?

Yeah. Or PIIs. Yep. My ultimate favorite. Yeah. In that

Keith: section. That's a great plant. I always tell people to put one of one of 'em in at a time as a more of a specimen plant. , because they'll, they tend to grow on, irregular in shape, which is of the beauty of the plant. Like a Japanese maple almost take, they take character, but if they, if you don't if you put three of 'em in, it's likely one of 'em will be slow to take off and one of 'em will grow really tall and one of 'em will grow really wide.

So I always. Like 'em by the ones, but it is, it's a perfect plant.

Shannon: It is the veining in that evergreen leaf. It's a narrow leaf, but the veining in the center is really pretty and I love how the new growth comes up. And is either bronze or the mountain fire red? Yep. That comes up. It looks like it's flowering through the summer.

Yeah. But that's just the new leaf growth. Yep. And then in the fall, those buds that come up and. Tiny little bell flowers.

Keith: Yeah. It's a perfect plant, I think. . Absolutely. It really is. One of my favorites in the landscape is sweet Box Sara Coca. Yeah. That, that plant only gets four feet tall, four feet wide takes a little bit a little bit of time to get going, and it doesn't really want to be pruned.

It needs to have a natural, like waterfall type habit, like a. Like a versaci, but in the early, late winter, early spring, it blooms, and the blooms are insignificant other than they're very fragrant. Oh. So it's a nice shiny leaf plant and as, and the fragrance is there, so and it handles dry. It's something that's gonna handle dry shade really well. So that's one of my all time

Shannon: favorites. Yeah. We've gotta talk about the anus as well. Yeah. Perfect plant, the woodland, ruby, and, but I also love the Florida sunshine. Cause when you have that deep, darker shade area that char yellow comes out like a So brilliant.

Yeah. It just

Keith: looks like it's blooming year round.

Shannon: It does. And it looks like it lightens up the whole space. Yep.

Keith: That's a perfect plant. That's a plant that I love to break a leaf off of when I'm walking around the yard. and crunch it up in my, I just, I love aromatherapy, kinda Yes. But a very natural, just, grab a rosemary and grab a, a. A a niece and let it just the fragrance waft into the air. Absolutely. When I'm with working with a customer, and they're looking at it and they're like it's open. It's this, you break a leaf off and hand it to 'em and some people don't love that fragrance, but the people that do are like, okay, I'm sold.


Shannon: sold. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I love it. I love the Duke U as well, even though that doesn't flower. It's something local. No, but

Keith: when the new growth comes out, it almost looks like it does. Like it does. It's really stunning. So the bright, that bright green almost looks like a flower when it's first starting to pop.

. And the, back to I know we talked about this in the sun, but texture's, I'm colorblind, so Yeah. . Texture's very important to me. . But the texture of a, of the you versus the. Some, like the Sara Coca or the the Florida and East the, big broad evergreen leaf. With that fine texture makes it, absolutely. At a glance that really makes everything pop. , what are some of your other favorites? Let's see. I

Shannon: love the Mahoney. Mahoney is a good one. Great pollinator for the fall and winter. Yep.

That yellow flowering kind of pop of sunshine at the top of it Yeah. Is just stunning. And then how it changes to the berries that turn darker gray, blue.

Keith: The bee and the bees go crazy. The bees love it. Yeah. The interesting thing about being a beekeeper, the interesting thing about a lot of the winter blooming plants, they really they attract bees really well, really easily.

And I think a lot of 'em are, a lot of the winter plants are fragrant. And I think the fragrance is there to attract. There aren't as many pollinators out, so they wanna attract pollination, so Sure. Mahoney is one of those. Fatia. Oh, fat in the landscape is amazing. It looks like a tropical plant.

It looks like something you might have to cut down or keep warm or winterize or bring in the house, but it's just hearty as can. And it, again, blooms in the dead of winter, big sphere like bloom that like no other plant has. And the bees go crazy over it. And it'll bloom late, fall through early spring, depends on the year.

But in the dead of winter it gets pollinated every year. The

Shannon: camouflage fatia Yeah. Is my absolute favorite. I know that's a slower growing one. Yeah, but that's amazing. Oh, the color is spectacular.

Keith: I still like the white variation, . But spiderweb is another one. All of those are just, when you're talking about big, bold plants a specimen plant in a landscape or something that's a backdrop for a perennial garden or a fern garden. You got that big, bold foliage. And probably one of the best plants we sell in the garden center hands. Is an autumn fern.

Shannon: Oh, I love

Keith: the autumn fern. Yeah. And you get, so your autumn brilliance, you've got that, fall color, pinky new growth.

and it's, that texture, it's it's kinda like the duke, you , you've got the texture that works against, anything else that against, you're against the others in the landscape.

Shannon: One more I wanna talk about too is the paper Bush or Edgeworth. Yep. What I love so much about it, of course the flowers are spectacular and fragrant.

But what I love about it is even in the summer, those leaves that are, that have the fine hairs on them. Yep. They hold rain droplets like little diamonds. Yeah. And so you can be walking out. Just with the morning dew on it. And it is sparkling. Yeah.

Keith: My favorite part of an edge worthy is the fact that in the wintertime it's a twisted, weird looking plant.

, you can't tell what it's gonna do. It's shaped like no other plant. It's structures like no other plant. Usually as a specimen plant, even though I've seen them in mass plannings and they're beautiful in mass plannings but, But that winter look and then it comes into the spring and you're not even looking, I, who cares what it looks like anymore?

It's just the fragrance. The fragrance is amazing, right? But when the leaves pop out, It totally changes to a different plant it looks like. It doesn't look like anything that if you saw it in the winter and you saw it in the spring, you might not even make a connection that it's the same plant.

Absolutely. And all of a sudden it's tropical and lush and from stark and

Shannon: sticky. . But when it is stark and sticky, it still has those beautiful tear. Flower blooms. Yeah. That are the golden white.

Keith: Yeah. No it's an amazing plant in the winter time. It just doesn't look like the same plant.

No, it doesn't in the spring. So that's a good one. You got anything else on your list?

Shannon: Finally, I think the Akua, which can be such a stunning plant. Yep. Because it looks to me like a pallet almost that an artist has splashed paint on. Yeah. I know that one will not tolerate wet feet. So it's not quite wet and dry.

It's still

Keith: stunning. Yeah. Yeah. I think a Nacu is an amazing plant, and it's an old fashioned plant, but there's lots of new varieties. , lots of dwarf varieties out there. And then, from a perennial standpoint hra, it just a, it's a perfect, and there's a full pallet of colors and different leaves and textures.

And then there's, in that same realm, there's um, t. , which is a native plant that has the same type of foliage, and then there's a cross between Tarella and H . So those plants, I just think they're great. They're great in pots, they're great in with, they really with annuals.

. And then they're great in, in the landscape that fire red one. Drop it in front of an autumn fern and then you get the spring flowers with it. So that's absolutely,

Shannon: that's a perfect plant. One other one that I forgot to mention is the cast iron. While in POTS it can look sparse.

When you see it in the landscape. Yeah. And the way that it has the solid green, the green and white stripe variation or the polka dot Yep. Is just unbelievable.

Keith: Yeah. And when you see that down south, like Charleston growing underneath a live oak or something like that, a good stand of it.

And with some. Such a perfect plant. And again, it's that big tropical foliage that you can't necessarily always get in North Carolina. And it's as hardy as it can possibly be. Cast iron

Shannon: for a reason. Yep. Exactly. .

Keith: So that's a good start. Make notes come in. Bring pictures,

Shannon: that's, yeah.

And we're just touching the tip of the iceberg here, because I could go on and

Keith: on. Yeah. There's so many plants and, we'll, and we'll we'll do this again and revisit some of the other ones. But bring pictures in, come up with ideas. We can put plants together. We've got 50 plus gardeners that are there every day, seven days a week to help.

Measurements also help, yeah. Measurements. And we can help you select plants come up with,